Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Go On! Future of International Criminal Justice

(Go On! is an occasional item on symposia of interest) On March 13-14, Santa Clara University School of Law will host a symposium and experts' round table to discuss "The Future of International Criminal Law." The event is free and is co-sponsored by the American Society of International Law and its ASIL-West contingent.
The symposium will featured panels on:
► The International Crimes of Terrorism;
► Complementarity and the International Criminal Court;
► Universal Jurisdiction; and
► Systemic Criminality.
It will conclude with a roundtable discussion in which panelists will explore how the international legal system may better achieve the goals of international criminal law.
Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni (right) will provide the keynote address. The symposium will feature several Int'l Law Grrls members, alumnae, and visitors, including Naomi Norberg, Luz Estella Nagle (left), and Jenny Martinez (below right). Additional participants include Linda Carter, Jordan Paust, Payam Ahkavan, Steve Vladeck, Michael Scharf, Wolfgang Kaleck, Laura Dickinson, Jamie Mayerfeld, Allison Danner, Dapo Akande, Mark Drumbl, Andre Nollkaemper, Julian Ku, Allen S. Weiner and Almudena Bernabeu along with David Sloss and me from Santa Clara. Click here for a full schedule of events.
The symposium's theme is described below:
The international criminal proceedings held in Nuremberg and Tokyo following a global war of catastrophic proportions are credited with launching the modern regime of international criminal law. After a Cold War hiatus, the international community began to build upon this revolutionary postwar legacy in significant ways. Key events are the 1994 establishment of the first ad hoc criminal tribunal, the 1998 launch of a permanent International Criminal Court in The Hague; the 1998 arrest of General Augusto Pinochet of Chile [below left] in the United Kingdom in response to an arrest warrant from Spain for him to stand trial for torture, genocide, and other international crimes over which Spain asserts universal jurisdiction; and the 1999 indictment of President Slobodan Miloševic, the first against a sitting head of state.
Notwithstanding these important developments, progress toward a more comprehensive system of international justice has not been linear or continuous.
Rather, it has featured a number of oversteps and backslides that include the failure of international troops and domestic officials to arrest key indicted war criminals from the Yugoslav war; the in absentia indictment in Belgium of high-level political figures from powerful states, which resulted in an international backlash and a contrite amendment of Belgium’s universal jurisdiction law; the failure of the East Timor Special Panels to gain jurisdiction over any defendants of real consequence as a result of Indonesian obstructionism and international neglect; and the summary execution of Saddam Hussein [below right] after a controversial trial and while important charges remained pending against him. Most important, perhaps, the tragic events of September 11, 2001, led to the creation of "legal black holes" at Guantánamo and elsewhere where pure power for a time had all but eclipsed law.
It cannot be gainsaid that international criminal law has become a regular feature of international relations and part of the repertoire of any transitional government moving from a period of repression and state terror to one in which the rule of law can take root. At the same time, international criminal law is also invoked outside of conflict zones in states with transient custody over offenders, but scant other connection to the crimes in question. Even more controversially, states have attempted to assert jurisdiction over individuals who are not in their custody and who have never stepped foot on their territories. These expansive assertions of international and extraterritorial jurisdiction are not without their detractors. In these varied contexts, international actors do not resort to international criminal law in a vacuum. Rather, choosing to implement a regime of international criminal justice
is a political choice, among other available and competing political choices. As such, it is impossible to consider international criminal law without also invoking issues of state sovereignty, national security, and the exercise of power in international relations.
Given the centrality of institutions and processes of international criminal justice to contemporary public international law and international relations, this conference brings together leading academic and practitioners to discuss cutting edge issues associated with international criminal law and its enforcement. These topics include the controversial exercise of universal jurisdiction, the principle of complementarity before the International Criminal Court, responses to collective and systemic criminal behavior, and the contested crimes of terrorism. Our perspective is expressly forward looking in an effort to anticipate where the field is going in light of its current manifestations.
We welcome your contributions to our symposium and hope to see you there! Registration is helpful, so that we have enough food.

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